2011: JONATHAN MAY WIN BUT…
Thus, the wrestling was shifted to another day. The day came last month when he faced a panel of editors in Abuja but he gave logical excuses on why he would not announce his decision yet to avoid destabilizing, disrupting and distracting the polity. This, at least, means that Mr President has made up his mind.
He is right, he has made up his mind, and many Nigerians know what his decision is. GEJ has not been quite successful in hiding his decision. There are very many tell-tale signs everywhere. This column once urged GEJ to send the right signal so others can follow, and he seems to be doing just that. One such indication is the courage of one of his aides to address the press and declare that GEJ would contest in 2011 , though the aide tried to mask it as 'my personal opinion'.
Many felt he was merely acting a script or flying a kite. Or, when did aides start making declarations for the principal without express clearance, and still come back to their desks not in chains? The peace on his face alone is another let-out, and it shows clearly that GEJ has no indecision eating up his mind anymore, such as trying to decide his role in 2011.
One of his latest signs to the nation is his now rescinded ban he imposed on Nigeria from participating in international football competitions for 24 months. The aim was to rebuild the national soccer team and restructure football administration in Nigeria. It became immediately obvious that such a task would require Mr President's direct and consistent supervision as the man that scrapped the existing structure and as the architect of a new one. It would require GEJ's direct intervention in terms of funding, selection of new helmsmen, directing and approving actions for the next two years, and he would be the one to say at the end, yes, it's done and it is perfect. When he scrapped the NFF, he was acting his true mind, and he knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going. It also meant he knew exactly how long it would take him to accomplish it, and that period is 24 months.
So, political analysts quickly took it from there, beyond football, to a very big level. They now need no further gathering of hints to round off their projections that GEJ would be around in the next 24 months, meaning Mr President will contest the 2011 Presidential Poll and hopes to win to be on seat for at least, the next 24 months. Period. Or, how was he ever thinking of starting such a delicate scheme and expect another man to carry it out exactly as he envisaged it?
When GEJ announces his decision, the rest would be action. At the moment, mobilization in disguised forms is intensely going on, opposition to it is equally on , showing that 2011 may really be here. Should he go ahead and contest, GEJ would win. In just a few minutes, you would find out just how, and in a few other minutes, you would discover the implications for Nigeria.
First, the too much reliance on effective electoral reforms to enthrone credible elections seems misplaced even though GEJ has good intentions. The activist professor, Atahiru Jega, may be an angel but he is one man. The problem is the system which is rotten through and through, and Jega cannot cure it between now and the elections. In the end, excuses will be offered and Nigerians will be asked to wait for yet another time. After all, everyone knew Las Lagerback had no time to do any magic with the Super Eagles and so it ended without excuses.
INEC's bureaucrats are entrenched experts in aiding rigging and many were installed and have been programmed to sell their consciences. Each came through a big-shot who wanted to control a particular hemisphere at all cost. Scratching it on the back by appointing Jega would not change anything. Another reason why GEJ would easily win is, because election rigging is the only form of politicking in the states, and the protagonists go about bragging about it. They go to political appointees and openly brag about how they had killed and maimed to install them. GEJ truly wants electoral reforms , but Jega is like a lamb in the midst of wolves. He cannot be everywhere, from the arid zones of hundreds of kilometers to the creeks of windy rivulets, Jega has the RECs to contend with.
'Godfatherism' is here to stay and these godfathers remain relevant by building and keeping armies of election riggers and youths who can get anything done. They then deliver their zones to governors who deliver to the president. Even governors of opposition parties play the same game and try to buy political space by delivering their states first to their parties and then to the President's party. These godfathers know what they want, and most often get their ways through.
The third reason why GEJ must win is the place of money politics in Nigeria. Money politics defines and redefines where people stand in Nigeria. Even with open ballot system where people have to openly queue behind their choice(s), voters change queues as soon as bigger cash is flashed. Lines grow long and later short according to the Naira. A survey has revealed amounts needed to buy (not win) political positions which in turn became cash cows. Governors need to put together between N1bn and N2bn depending on the zone of the country, just to capture power. Does anyone still wonder why only public office holders dare bid to be governors? Does anyone think looting would soon end?
The fourth important explanation is that GEJ is from the oil-rich Niger Delta which has not produced a chief executive for Nigeria. The fact that he who pays the piper has not dictated the tune over the years in Nigeria does not mean it would not happen. Besides, the south-south has supported the North from the days of Dapa Biriye, Isaac Boro, Melford Okilo etc to this day. If destiny for once entrusts power in the hands of a south-southerner, should the north, in all honesty, be so angry as to make maximum trouble that can permanently damage the age-old cooperation? This is why we believe that Edwin Clark and other south-south leaders need to be more diplomatic in selling the Jonathan candidature to the North.
Fifth, the truth is that the Niger Delta and the south would want to keep this slot and this would affect voting in 2011. The international community also thinks that this is an opportunity to pacify the oil region and bring peace by giving the region a stake in the fragile federating arrangement. The sixth reason is this. State governors who want to go for second tenure want a ticket badly and they think that helping GEJ would help them. Some afraid of probe and the EFCC and ICPC are falling over themselves to appease GEJ and hope for safety. They think the Ogbulafor treatment is a lesson in loyalty.
Even the region that owns the turn is not left out in the craze to support the incumbent. There are more groups and individuals rooting for GEJ for 2011 than against him, probably not out of love for the man from Otueke (in Bayelsa) but out of personal interest and love of money. However, the northern minorities appear set to decide their destiny and dump the monolithic north when the chips are down. In the next few months, GEJ would have his hands full with groups wanting to work for him in the north.
There are huge implications for a Jonathan victory in 2011. If the north fails to get the expected benefits in a Jonathan government, it will mean that whenever they grab power again, nobody can get it back. This way, the East would be the ones to again lose out. Nobody knows how long more the East can tolerate political and economic isolation and if a guerilla group would emerge to launch an agitation based on a legitimate demand for secession and demand for power, they could get large following. That way, Nigeria would be back to square one and on its knees.